OOIDA files comments on ATA’s California meal and rest break petition

October 30, 2018

Mark Schremmer


While acknowledging that California’s meal and rest break laws are controversial and complex, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says that ATA’s petition gives the agency no reason to reverse its previous decision on the issue.

ATA petitioned the FMCSA in September, requesting a determination that California’s meal and rest break rules are preempted by federal law. OOIDA submitted comments about ATA’s petition on Oct. 26.

“More than a decade ago, FMCSA rejected a similar petition that was submitted to FMCSA,” OOIDA wrote in comments signed by President Todd Spencer. “In its decision, the agency noted that California’s meal and rest break laws are not regulations pertaining to commercial motor vehicle safety, not unique to transportation, and the petition exceeded FMCSA’s congressional grant of authority. There is nothing in ATA’s petition that addresses these issues or would otherwise cause the agency to reverse its earlier decision.”

ATA’s petition argued that California’s meal and rest break laws “significantly undermine safety.”

OOIDA countered by saying ATA’s motives are about driver productivity rather than safety.

“Contrary to ATA’s assertion, California’s meal and rest break laws do not undermine highway safety, nor is there any validated data in their petition to justify said claim,” OOIDA wrote. “ATA’s primary motive to preempt these laws is to maximize driver productivity, which they make abundantly clear in the petition.”

With that said, OOIDA is not advocating similar meal and rest break laws to be added to the federal hours-of-service regulations.

“California’s meal and rest break laws should be carefully analyzed and resolved by Congress or the judiciary or both,” OOIDA wrote. “Unfortunately, ATA’s legislative strategy intentionally rejected a more measured and reasonable approach, thus denying this issue the thoughtful attention it deserves. To be clear, OOIDA doesn’t necessarily support California’s meal and rest break laws either. In fact, if FMCSA were to propose similar changes to the federal HOS regulations, OOIDA would be adamantly opposed.

“OOIDA acknowledges some of the concerns raised in ATA’s petition. Indeed, this issue is extremely complex, and California could conceivably – and perhaps illegally – expand these laws to require owner-operators and non-California-based employee drivers to comply with them.”